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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Earthquakes in Turkey-Syria Border: What Lessons can the Municipality of Rosario, Batangas Learn from Them

Last update: 19 February 2023 | 1200H PhST

ZONING REGULATIONS AND BUILDING CODES play a critical role in reducing the impact of earthquakes on buildings in Turkey. Zoning regulations limit development in areas prone to natural hazards and specify design requirements for buildings in seismic hazard zones, such as reinforced concrete or other seismic-resistant construction techniques. Building codes set minimum standards for the design and construction of buildings, providing guidance on the use of materials and construction techniques that can resist earthquakes and minimize damage.

Poor Enforcement. However, the effectiveness of these regulations depends on their implementation and enforcement. Poor enforcement can lead to substandard construction and inadequate designs, increasing the risk of building collapse. Unfortunately, Turkey's building laws have been poorly enforced, and the government has provided "construction amnesties" that exempt unpermitted structures from safety requirements.

Earthquakes. In Turkey—a country nestled between several plate boundaries and located directly on two main fault zones, the East Anatolian and the North Anatolian—earthquakes are a fact of life.

On 06 February, 2023, two major earthquakes - measuring 7.8 and 7.5 on the magnitude scale - flattened buildings of all kinds and leaving thousands of people dead and injured across southern Turkey and northern Syria.

Zoning Amnesty. Reports suggest that over 50% of buildings in Turkey were constructed in violation of regulations, and civil engineers have raised concerns about the country's infrastructure's ability to handle large earthquakes. Eyup Muhcu, president of the Chamber of Architects of Turkey, warns that "construction amnesty means unsafe structures." Furthermore, "This extraordinary devastation is perpetuated by the persistence in repeating faulty urban policies and politically charged decisions like the 2018 zoning amnesty law," said Prof Pelin Pinar Giritlio─člu, president of the Istanbul branch of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects. 

Mitigating the Impact. Therefore, improving building codes and regulations and enforcing them effectively is crucial to ensure that new and existing buildings in Turkey are designed and constructed to resist earthquakes. By doing so, the impact of earthquakes can be mitigated and lives can be saved.

The Takeaway. Turkey's high earthquake risk underscores the importance of strict adherence to building codes and zoning regulations. While new construction plans often have higher standards, it is crucial to enforce these regulations effectively to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to resist earthquakes. By prioritizing building quality and safety over political expedience, it probably can help reduce the devastating impact of earthquakes on Turkey's built environment. It would be wise to apply these significant lessons in the Municipality of Rosario, Batangas by prioritizing building quality and safety over political expediency, along with effective implementation and enforcement.

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